Set in 1917, during the First World War, it’s “loosely based on the true story of A.C. Gilbert” and the musical “focuses on Gilbert's battle with the U.S. government as it attempts to ban toy sales during the holiday season”. It’s the kind of story that almost asks to be musicalized and so composer and lyricist Ron Lytle took the task into his own hands and delivered a good old fashion score.
The show had its opening in 2006 and took this long to get a recording of the score, but it was released on the right time of the year, Christmas season. This has the spirit of a truly holiday musical and it sounds like a Frank Capra movie.
Ron Lytle take us to a innocent time, where the bad guys get what they deserve and all the good guys get happy endings. The songs are simple, tuneful, with a happy quality that seems to be missing from many of the new Broadway musicals. I confess the names in the cast don’t say anything to me, but they deliver their songs with heart.
I’m not very fond of the kids song “What’s Wrong with the Grown-Ups?” or the lame “Daddy Has to Leave You”, although it has a sweet melody, but I like the rest of the score. “I Think I Think” is one of those tunes that linger on and the romantic “All I Want for Christmas” and “A Very Merry Christmas After All” could easily become new holiday classics. Michael P. Mendelsohn give us a funny time with “Dixon’s Turn”, Chris Vettell has a good time with the hopeful “Dream a Dream” and Sheelagh Murphy shines with the kind of lullaby “See You in the A.M.”. Ryan Drummond happily leads the company with “A New Man” (a big production number that could benefit from better orchestrations) and Melissa O’Keefe beautifully delivers the ballad “It’s Very Dangerous”; together they deliver us best song of the score, “No More Love Songs”, that reminded me of Jule Styne.
Like Ron Lytle’s musical OH MY GODMOTHER!, this one has the heart in the right place and a feel good quality that’s contagious. With more exciting orchestrations this could sound even better, but I enjoy it like it is and I’m sure many people would like to have it as a Christmas present. Just one warning, cynics keep away!
Rate: 6 (from 1 to 10)